Applying for the right VA benefits can make the difference between able to afford assisted living or being forced to take out a loan/borrow money from a friend. Eligibility for these benefits should be the primary concern for veterans and their caregivers, though other smaller aspects could potentially impact whether you receive the full benefit amounts. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can help you secure the benefits you or your senior veteran deserve. While navigating the application process, it’s important to keep several things in mind that can help streamline the process and help you avoid missteps.
Veterans Affairs Does Not Recognize Power of Attorney
The VA doesn’t recognize a power of attorney, a shocking fact for caregivers and individuals who have already done planning for their loved one’s care. Whenever a veteran is incapable of managing their financial affairs, whether or not they’ve begun to apply for VA benefits or have been receiving them for a time, a third party fiduciary must be present to oversee their benefits payout. Additionally, a documented medical professional must also be present to provide documentation that the individual in question is not competent. A family member or friend usually takes on this role after passing a thorough certification, and vetting process carried out by the VA. This process includes a background check, credit report, personal interview, and a review of character references. If the veteran does not have anyone available to serve as a fiduciary, the VA will appoint a professional fiduciary instead.
You Can Expedite a VA Application
Expediting a VA application is possible. The VA even has specific regulations in place to expedite applications for veterans who meet specific qualifications. If your veteran is terminally ill, 75 years of age or older, or experiencing severe financial hardship (homelessness, bankruptcy), they can apply to have their application process expedited. Even if there is no pressing need, you should let the VA office handling your veteran’s application know if your veteran meets these requirements. They will set you up with the process for completing a written request along with additional paperwork.
You Don’t Need to be Sick or Injured
One lesser-known aspect of the VA that people often get wrong is that Veterans do not need to be injured or ill if they are over the age of 65. By the VA standards, once someone has reached 65 years of age, they are considered 100% disabled. This means that low-income Veterans can be eligible for pension benefits even if they don’t have significant health concerns.
Benefits End When a Veteran Dies
If a veteran dies before their spouse, the pension benefits that they were receiving will immediately stop. The surviving spouse must submit an entirely new application to the VA to get more benefits reinstated. Additionally, the surviving spouse must supply all documentation and certificates to ensure that they are eligible to receive the benefits. The kind of paperwork the spouse must supply includes the deceased veteran’s discharge papers, their marriage certificate, income statement, assets, expenses, physicians statement, and medical diagnosis for the surviving spouse’s inability to care for themselves. Even if these documents have all been provided to the VA in a prior application for benefits, they must be resubmitted. The average time that an individual receives a Survivor’s Pension is approximately 8 - 12 months after they apply.
The VA 1-800 Number is Local
You may try calling the VA to ask them questions about applying or the status of an application. Be aware that when you call the 1-800 number, the VA will automatically reroute you to the nearest VA office, which could be different from the office that you applied at or where your veteran lives. If you are directed to the incorrect VA office, you won’t be able to obtain any information because no office is allowed to pull files on beneficiaries or applicants that fall outside of their jurisdiction.
Assisted Living For Veterans
Assisted living facilities are an excellent option for senior veterans to spend their golden years in. In many facilities, they will encounter living spaces such as dining rooms, exercise rooms, quiet areas, community pools, lawns, and more. In some facilities, residents can even have their kitchen within their room. If needed, Veterans can also get the assistance of trained caregivers who are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained caregivers can assist veterans with activities of daily living such as bathing, eating, getting dressed, going to the bathroom, and operating machinery/technology. Veterans who are eligible can also cover a portion of their costs using VA pensions. The VA will not pay rent, but they can cover the costs of extra services such as trained caregivers while the veteran is in the assisted living facility.
Landmark Senior Living cares about those who served our country and those who continue to do so. That’s why we’re working to help senior veterans and their spouses unlock the benefits available to them through pensions offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you’re looking for assisted living benefits for Veterans, visit Landmark Senior Living in Fall River.